Powerful “Insider” Job Interview Tips From 5 Years as a Headhunter

job interview tips- how to pass a job interview

This article will cover 2 types of job interview tips to help you pass a job interview and get the job you want:

  • Interview Preparation– steps you should take before your interview.
  • Job Interview Tips– the best strategies to use during the actual interview.

If you think most hiring decisions are based on hard experience and qualifications, better keep reading. A resume gets you in the door, but how you interview determines whether you’re offered the job.

These are the best interview tips that I know, from close to 5 years working as a Recruiter.

After you finish this article you’ll know how to present yourself better than the competition and pass a job interview a majority of the time.

These aren’t just interviewing tips that I recommend to others as a Recruiter either. I’ve used these strategies myself when changing jobs. This stuff works, trust me. Let’s get started…

Part I: Job Interview Preparation

Each step below will prepare you for the actual interview. None of this is very time consuming but it will set you apart from everyone else applying for the job, making it easy for the company to decide who to hire (you!)

Here are the basic interview preparation steps to remember. I’ve put the estimated time next to each one.

Research the company (5 minutes).

Know what they do, know how they make money. You’re not expected to be an expert, but knowing nothing about the company makes it look like you don’t care. Talent doesn’t matter at this point, you will not get hired if they think you don’t care.

All of this research can be done on a company’s website and on Google.

To learn the latest on a company, try typing the company’s name plus the word “news” into your search bar.

Think of two reasons you’re interested in the company (10 minutes).

Use the company research you’ve done to come up with a business-related reason you’re excited about them. It could be a new business model, new clients, new partnership, etc.

Actual example: I recently had a phone interview with a tech company that was built as a review/info website. They recently started handling transactions instead of sending the buyers out to other websites to complete the transaction. I read this in the news and mentioned it as an exciting development and a really good business move. The interviewer was extremely impressed that I had read the news, and understood the implications.  Total time spent researching: less than 3 minutes.

Along with one business reason, try to come up with a secondary reason too. Maybe community involvement. Or company culture. Almost every company has a blurb about their culture on the website. Read it and mention what you read as a secondary reason for being interested.

You’ll seem extremely well-prepared and well-rounded for having two very different reasons.

Think of an explanation for why you’re job searching (5 minutes).

Companies will often choose someone less talented if they also seem less risky or if their motivations make more sense. I’ve seen it first-hand.

Don’t lose out on a job to somebody with less skill than you. Prepare some legitimate reasons why you want to make a move (without talking negative about your current employer). Here are some examples:

  • You’ve accomplished ____ in your current role and you’re ready for a new challenge
  • Your company’s direction has shifted and you feel it’s time to join a new organization
  • You’re interested in a different type of product/service
  • You’re looking for a larger or smaller organization

You can get more specific based on your situation. These are general ideas. If you do a good job with this you can beat out applicants that have more experience than yourself, because they’re not using these strategies most likely.

Get familiar with your resume (5 minutes).

This is one of the more important interview preparation tips, and one of the easiest. Glance over your resume if you haven’t in a while. Be ready to explain past job changes in a positive light. If you left a job because your manager was horrible, say that you went to an organization that had more supportive management. It’s all about how you phrase it. More examples on how to deliver this in Part II.

Also think of a couple of challenges and accomplishments in your last 1-2 positions. Interviewers love specific examples of accomplishments.

That’s it, you’re done with Part I. At this point you’ve already done more than 80% of job applicants, and you have good answers prepared for some of the most common interview questions. Lets move on…

Part II: Job Interview Tips

So, you’ve mentally prepared yourself with the interviewing tips from Part I. Now let’s talk about how to pass a job interview in the moment.

Describe your work history BRIEFLY.

Most interviewers will ask you to give a quick walkthrough of your background at the start of the interview. That’s why I mentioned reviewing your resume beforehand. It’s a pretty commonly overlooked but it’s one of my favorite job interview tips and it’s so easy to do!

If you’ve prepared a good, brief narrative of your career, you can impress them right off the bat. What got you interested in this field? What have you accomplished recently?

But it has to be concise. Nobody wants to hire somebody that rambles on or sounds scattered, and that’s the biggest mistake people make with this relatively open-ended question.

Spend most of your time on the recent portion of your career. Go through the beginning rather quickly. 2-3 minutes total should be your target.

Explain why you’re interested in interviewing with them.

After walking them through your resume, you’ll probably be asked why you’re looking to make a job change, and/or why you’re interested in their company in particular. This is where the research you’ve done pays off. You should already have two specific reasons for wanting to interview with their company.

When explaining your reason for job searching in general, I mentioned one example of how to turn a negative into a positive in Part I. Here are 2 more examples:

If your current company has no room for upward growth, say that you’re looking for a job with more room for upward growth. If you don’t like your coworkers, say you’re hoping to find a team that’s more collaborative. See the difference? You’re saying the same thing without sounding negative.

Whatever you say you’re looking for, be prepared for them to ask why you can’t get that in your current company. Just answer by saying that you don’t think there’s an opportunity to get this, and you considered this before starting to look externally. Simple and easy. That should end the line of questioning.

Answering technical questions- don’t freak out.

After the basic questions, you’ll get into the meat of the interview. The content and questions here will vary based on the job, but here’s what you need to know about how to pass the job interview:

A good interviewer will test your limits. Especially if it’s a position involving some type of technical knowledge (math, science, engineering, etc). The only way they can find your limits is if they ask something you don’t know. So stay calm when you get this. Here’s what to do:

Try to work your way through the question as much as you can. Your thought process is often more important than answering correctly, so tell them what you’re thinking. Ask questions to clarify if needed.

Seeming genuine, thoughtful and honest can go a long way. It’s more important than answering any 1 question correctly in most cases.

Ask your own questions toward the end.

You should ask a lot of questions after the interviewer has finished their own questions. How are you going to decide if you want the job if you don’t find out any info? The best job candidates are evaluating a company, not just trying to get a job in the first company that wants them. Once a company realizes this, they’ll treat you like a top notch candidate and try to sway you to join them.

Here are over 100 great questions you can ask the interviewer.

If you meet with 4 people, you should ask questions to all of them. It’s okay to repeat a question, but don’t tell the last person, “so-and-so already answered all my questions.” I’ve done this in the past and wasn’t offered the job. Lesson learned.

Some of the best questions are opinion-based questions because you can ask the exact same question to as many people as you want. Example: “What’s your favorite part about working here? What is the biggest challenge/difficulty you face here?”

Always act like you want the job.

You have 1 goal in any interview: Convince them that you’re the best candidate for the job and get invited to the next round.

You should be selling yourself in the interview, not deciding if the job is desirable.

You can digest the info and make a decision once you get home. If you start using this approach you’ll have a big advantage throughout the entire interview because you’ll have one single thing to focus on. Other applicants will be juggling everything at once.

Always end the same way.

After they’ve asked all of their questions and you’ve had a chance to ask yours, thank the interviewer and tell them you’re excited about what you’ve heard so far and you’re looking forward to hearing back from them.

Don’t ask for feedback on the spot. 

I’ve seen people recommend that you ask for feedback or concerns at the end of the interview. Something like this: “Based on what we’ve discussed, is there any reason you wouldn’t consider me for this job?” Horrible advice. Never ask this. Ever. Or anything like it.

First of all, they just finished interviewing you. Give them time to think. You’re going to go home and decide whether you’re interested, they need time to think too. Don’t put them on the spot like this.

Also you’re bringing the negatives to their attention. You’re literally asking them if they can think of a reason that’d stop them from hiring you. Even if they do think of something, they won’t tell you for fear of a lawsuit.

I like to say something like this instead: “If you need any more info from me or have any questions later, don’t hesitate to contact me.”

Job Interview Tips, Summary:

That’s it. You’ve done everything you can to pass the job interview and get the job offer.

Master these steps and the number of job offers you receive throughout your career will skyrocket.

Don’t forget: motivation, interest, and how you explain yourself and the reason you’re interviewing are just as important as your actual resume/skillset. I can’t stress this enough in terms of important job interview tips to remember!

Reading this article won’t change your professional skills. But it can change something far more powerful- how you come across in the interview room.

You can beat out somebody with more experience and a more impressive resume because job interviewing is a separate skill that you’ve spent time mastering.

Got a question or comment on some of these strategies? Which ones do you think will work best for you? Leave a comment below and let me know.

UPDATE: If you’re job hunting, this might interest you: I recently finished my step-by-step job interview guide based on the exact proven methods I’ve used as a Recruiter for 5 years. It’s designed to save you time and get you MUCH better prepared than the competition. If you want to be 100% ready and confident in the interview room, you can find out more here.

 

 

Leave a Comment:

10 comments
Antonella Tromba says September 13, 2015

Hi Biron,
Thanks for your free insights! This article is really amazing. Just saved it as a PDF into my archive.
I wanted to ask you if, according to your experience, a Candidate can predict if an interview attended went well. You know when all interviewers say, “We will let you know…”, but actually it’s very subtle to understand what they really thought of you.

Reply
    Biron says September 13, 2015

    Hi Antonella,

    Thanks! Glad you liked it.

    I think it’s hard to predict and most candidates aren’t very good at it. It goes both ways, I’ve seen candidates think they did horribly and be wrong. And also the other way around.

    The fact that you don’t know who else interviewed for the job and how they did makes it even harder to predict.

    Reply
      Antonella Tromba says September 25, 2015

      Thanks, Biron!
      I have read tons of blogs and material about job search and job interviews, and I must admit your advice is more digestible and realistic than the average!
      I am getting some phone interviews from England (I am Italian). I wowed the HR in the last one, believe me. She just seemed in love with me, but I don’t know how HR persons in general can influence my possible supervisor to attend a second interview (that’s the toughest part).
      I have noticed interview styles are different from time to time. Every company has its policy. Some of them start the first interview with the HR, others with the external recruiter setting up a behavioral interview, and others again with both the HR and the company line manager of your area.
      Anyway, I learned that it’s always good to attend interviews: it’s some kind of an exercise.
      I look forward to seeing what the results will be at the end of the “workouts”!

      Reply
James Davis says September 17, 2015

Hi Biron, thanks! Insightful article.

Reply
    Biron says May 11, 2016

    Hey James,

    Thanks for the feedback, glad it helped!

    Reply
Lexi says February 4, 2016

Is it really this simple for how to pass a job interview? I mean, aren’t all interviews different depending on the company and who you are talkin g to?

Plus if everyone is following these steps to pass their job interviews what else can I do to stand out from other applicants. I’ve been interviewing at so many jobs that seem to have high competition. I make it past the first round but then it seems like a numbers game and I struggle to pass the next couple of interviews to get the job.

Reply
    Biron says May 11, 2016

    Hi Lexi,

    Hiring managers use a lot of the same strategies across different industries. That’s why this works so well.

    And surprisingly not that many people are preparing as well as they could. Those people might get the job if nobody who is better-prepared shows up, but if somebody follows my method and goes into the same interview process, that other person is going to have the odds stacked heavily against them.

    For your last question… If you’re getting through the first job interview but then not being offered the position, or not passing the following rounds, it’s either an issue with your communication, or your job-related skills that they’re testing you on. Are these conversations you’re having getting very technical? Or no? Depending on your answer, it’ll help you know what to brush up on.

    Reply
Joan says May 20, 2016

Great article! A lot of information in an easily understandable format. Am definitely gong to start using these ideas in my job search.

Reply
    Biron says May 20, 2016

    Hey Joan, glad to hear it! Good luck in the job hunt.

    Reply
Ramsay says October 3, 2016

Employers want to know that you are interested in THEM, and care less about your personal goals as long as it meets “their needs”. The research above shows you have their interest in mind

Reply
Add Your Reply

Job Hunting? Get 16 Perfect Answers for the Top 8 Interview Questions... 100% Free

x

Free Guide: The Top 8 Interview Questions and Word-For-Word Answers

job interview answers and career tips
  • 16 word-for-word answers you can copy
  • Hidden traps and mistakes to avoid for all 8 questions
  • The 3 "Key Ingredients" to any good interview answer (and how to easily check yourself)
Sign up to download this FREE Guide now
x